State Dept. Clarifies Efforts to Facilitate Travel by US Citizens to Cuba

By Progreso Weekly

John Kirby:
State Department spokesperson John Kirby

HAVANA TIMES – State Department spokesman John Kirby this week tried to dampen the initial enthusiasm over commercial air travel between the U.S. and Cuba by cautioning that “normalizing relations is going to be a long, complex process” that “is going to take some time.”

Media reports, cited Tuesday by Progreso Weekly, said that the U.S. Treasury Department was “developing new regulations that would allow all Americans to travel to Cuba as individuals” and that “the Obama administration [was] working to reach a deal with Cuba by year’s end that would allow travelers to fly on scheduled commercial flights.”

At a press briefing on Tuesday (Aug. 18), Kirby began by saying that “normalizing relations is going to be a long, complex process, and it’s going to require a lot of interaction and dialogue on both sides between our two governments, based on mutual respect. And that’s why [Secretary of State John Kerry] and his counterpart down there, [Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez] talked about this steering committee that’s being set up to sort of work through the various phases of normalization that we all recognize is going to take some time.”

“The embargo on Cuba is still in place,” Kirby reminded the journalists. “Legislative action alone is required to lift it. Obviously, Secretary Kerry and the President support the lifting of the embargo. But in the meantime, the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control will continue to administer the regulations that provide for general and specific licenses for the 12 categories of purposeful travel to Cuba that are now authorized for American citizens.”

The 12 categories authorized for “purposeful travel” in groups include art, culture, the environment, educational activities (including people-to-people travel), journalistic and religious activities, professional meetings, humanitarian projects and other specialties.

“Under the Cuba regulatory changes published by […] the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control in January of this year, scheduled air service to Cuba by U.S.-based airlines is permissible,” Kirby said.

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“We remain in contact with the Cuban government regarding the establishment of scheduled air service, which U.S. airlines say they are eager to offer to authorized travelers,” the spokesman continued, but “no decisions have yet been made, and of course, we seek to continue to have these technical discussions in the near future.”

Pressed by a reporter as to whether the media predictions of a year-end resumption of commercial travel were accurate, Kirby repeated that “no decisions have been made yet and we’re going to remain in contact with the Cuban government as we move forward.”

But he reminded his questioner that “when we were down in Havana on [Aug. 14], [Secretary Kerry] noted a significant increase in travel to Cuba, over 35 percent increase. And he also talked about being able to reach an agreement to allow a resumption of scheduled air service [that] would provide more options to facilitate authorized travel to Cuba, consistent with our policy of increasing people-to-people ties.”

Asked about the initial meeting of the Cuban and American delegations to the “steering group committee” that will deal with the technicalities of bilateral travel, Kirby said that it will take place “sometime in early September, around the 9th or 10th of September.”

The State Department later announced that the panels will meet in Havana.

“There’s multiple phases here,” Kirby said. “One of them will include discussions about civil aviation, which would include this matter, of course. But this is going to be, we believe, a fairly lengthy process.

“There are some issues where we certainly share common goals with the Cubans — narcotics and maritime security — very, very common goals. And then there are other issues which I think are going to require a little bit more time to hammer out. Transportation and civil aviation is probably one of those.”

Could an agreement be reached as early as the end of the year, a reporter asked.

“Obviously, we want to move the process of normalization forward, but we don’t want to do it faster than we can accommodate or in an unwise speedy way,” was Kirby’s answer. “So, I don’t want to speculate about when we might see an agreement to go forward on this.”

[For a transcript of the entire press briefing, click here.]


52 thoughts on “State Dept. Clarifies Efforts to Facilitate Travel by US Citizens to Cuba

  • August 27, 2015 at 12:04 pm
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    No, that’s what you don’t get by not being a US citizen. Companies are ancillary to helping people, and only if it appeals to their bottom line. It’s the US citizens that go there and actually ENGAGE the people and are willing to fight along side them that step up. Sure we have a lot of people that will do the same selfish things you guys do and be indifferent (which should be a freakin crime!), but we also have a different breed of people who will go under the guise of tourism, and stay with the people, when they are free again to go to Cuba. They are the ones who believe in fighting alongside anyone that wants to fight for their freedom. It’s an ideological group of us (some, like me, have found ways to go now to lay the groundwork for that day, just not in numbers yet) that will help as we have elsewhere in the world. Companies do things solely for profit, including “benevolence”. It’s the people (not all, but some) that help make change. For me, it would be different if I had family still there being oppressed. I personally would be dead now, but so would a LOT of oppressors in Cuba that I would have taken with me. I would not be going there year after year and just watch my grandmother, grandfather, aunts, uncles, and cousins, be oppressed without making a stand. THAT is the biggest difference and what the Miami folks just don’t get yet. Well, most Miami folks, I do know some that go and help lay the groundwork now. So yeah, by 2020 there will be radical change if the US normalizes. More in 5 years than all the rest of you have done in 50. The US government is just as criminally compliant in keeping the Cuban people oppressed as every other country and people that go there and just watch. It’s the US people that will indeed make the difference there once unshackled.

  • August 27, 2015 at 11:47 am
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    I am indeed. No more so than the chancellor of West Germany or the Head of the government of Turkey or any other NATO member country where we put our missiles was to OUR missiles. Notice how Russia still flogs all those countries like we flog Cuba????? Are you saying that Fidel had ANY control over them other than renting the Soviets the space?

  • August 27, 2015 at 11:44 am
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    …and just like your words, I never said you did. I asked a simple question that you chose to answer from the perspective that you indeed thought it was a bad thing. I would have (as you) answered, “Exactly my point! Why would it be a bad thing?” …but then again, I don’t really think it IS a bad thing. It’s all about how one reads something and their perspective. 🙂

  • August 26, 2015 at 6:50 pm
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    So you are suggesting that the perhaps future involvement of US companies would be different that they would be “stepping up”? So what has the US done in the last 56 years to help the Cuban people to be free? The embargo?

  • August 26, 2015 at 6:45 pm
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    I have not at any time said that bringing gifts to relatives – or others – is a bad thing. Don’t put words in my mouth!
    I go home to Cuba twice per year and spend the majority of my time there. I always take two suitcases one full of gifts and return with one. They fit inside each other.
    I do not use Air Canada to Havana but have done so in the past before they escalated their prices. Each time, the disembarking passengers had substantial volumes of goods in addition to suitcases.
    As I said above, there is no particular limit on the amount that families may gift to their relatives in Cuba. Your suggestion of $1,000 to $2,000 being incorrect.

  • August 26, 2015 at 11:40 am
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    You implied Gross was NOT a spy.

    You wrote:
    “If you regard the exchange of the Cuban spies for Mr. Alan Gross a…”

    you chose not to write:

    “If you regard the exchange of the Cuban spies for the American spy a…”
    or
    “If you regard the exchange of the Cuban spies for Mr. Alan Gross, the American spy, a……”
    or
    “If you regard the exchange of Mr.Hernández, Mr. Guerrero, Mr. Labañino, Mr. González, and Mr. González for Mr. Gross a…”

    That’s subtle, intentional, and so Miami agenda.

  • August 26, 2015 at 11:28 am
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    Right, we should believe an account made up by an individual who paints a picture of a place known for bribery (which we also know happens regularly throughout both Latin America AND communist countries, as well as in free countries, like here!) as just Christmas gifts and Tiny Tim orphanage stories. Makes sense to me. I know how the foreign press (BBC and AJ) reporters on the ground there would have no clue about what really goes on in Cuba because they don’t WITNESS IT EVERY DAY (sarc). Remember, Cuba cannot censor these stories ….once outside of Cuba (BBC/AJ). I would bet that the reporters in Cuba have a pretty solid idea about what is happening there (what they see and what they know, that they don’t see). Again, if you think that there is no bribery going on in Cuba or maybe just “Canadian companies making millions” in Cuba wouldn’t ever do it, I’d say you are either VERY naive, ill informed, or from Miami with an agenda.

  • August 26, 2015 at 11:16 am
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    That explains why life is good for Cubans there over the last 50 years? “Stepping up” is helping the Cuban people to be free, not just make a profit. Perhaps we have different definitions of “stepping up”. So, what are you saying these companies have done to make life better for the Cuban people and affect change in the communism? Oh yeah, bribe government officials. I forgot. 🙂

  • August 26, 2015 at 11:12 am
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    Try again:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/17/world/americas/cuba-lifts-much-reviled-rule-the-exit-visa.html?_r=0

    http://gawker.com/5952136/cuba-lifts-exit-visa-requirement-allowing-residents-to-travel-abroad-with-limited-restrictions

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2012-10-16/cuba-lifts-exit-visa-requirement-on-foreign-travel-for-residents

    http://www.bbc.com/travel/story/20130116-cuba-lifts-travel-restrictions
    So yeah, we’re all wrong…. exit visa, facts seem in order.

  • August 26, 2015 at 1:14 am
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    I said that Gross was not a businessman. Are you saying he was?

  • August 26, 2015 at 12:55 am
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    Don’t believe all that the media do or do not report. In the US a famous newspaper even incorrectly reported the result of a Presidential election. Do you really believe that foreign media have open and free access in Cuba?

  • August 26, 2015 at 12:37 am
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    The carta blanca was terminated in 2012. It was not an exit visa. Get your facts in order!

  • August 26, 2015 at 12:23 am
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    Are you suggesting that Fidel Castro Ruz was not party to the installation of nuclear missiles by the USSR in Cuba? Time for you to get up to speed on your history and to think things through!

  • August 25, 2015 at 2:50 pm
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    Well, you would have to understand Castro saying that they would never release Gross and the US saying they would never release the Cuban 5. A “change would indeed be: “Ok, we’ll release the Cuban 5.” and OK, we’ll release Gross.” How is that not a change? Seriously do ask. I believe you will find what I have found there. People in Cuba will remember where they were the day they found out the US and Cuba were seeking normalization. Again, the reactions in the room I was in were priceless. One of the most beautiful expressions of amazement I have ever witnessed. Also, the US president being shown live, without a censorship delay was another change there.

  • August 25, 2015 at 2:44 pm
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    That would be because the British guy jumped in to help after the first three engaged. The two servicemen jumped on him, the US citizen (who was a friend of theirs) and a British guy joined in …in that order. Myopia would be not realizing the order of events and trying to discredit the people that actually made the call first.

    “El Khazzani then went into one of the cars, where two American servicemen jumped on him when his weapon jammed and — with the help of another American and a British man — managed to bring him down and tie him up, Molins explained.” Not myopic. Accurate.

  • August 25, 2015 at 2:28 pm
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    Oh yeah… and this at the Christmas Party for the orphans too… Al-Jazeera:

    “Tokmakjian, 74, the company’s founder and president, has been detained since Septemeber 2011 on charges that include bribery, fraud, tax evasion, and falsifying bank documents.”

    Sure, I can see where all that would be from Christmas Party gifts. It’s strange that none of these International sources even mention a Christmas party.

  • August 25, 2015 at 2:13 pm
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    Nope, apparently Rubio is a friend of yours (or would like to be) he also believes the embargo is the way to go and that US policy towards Cuba is “just”. (How many Canadians are throwing up in their mouth a little now after hearing “one of their-own” supports the old US policy towards Cuba).

  • August 25, 2015 at 2:06 pm
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    Nice story. You left out Tiny Tim and the crippled children in the orphanage. Again. it was SUBSTANTIALLY more than that and to believe different is just naïveté. That’s not a typical Canadian trait. You really are sounding like an old Soviet propaganda dude! Is this Vladimir Posner? I’ve wondered what you’ve been up to since the Radio Moscow days! 🙂

  • August 25, 2015 at 1:56 pm
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    It’s news reported by CTV regardless of source. Never seen an International news story filmed, have you. i.e. at the end of each of their reports, “This is Bob Lablaw, CBC news.” pause “This is Bob Lablaw, CNN news.”, pause ” “This is Bob Lablaw, CBS news.”, pause ” “This is Bob Lablaw, Channel 8 news.” pause, “This is Bob Lablaw, Channel 12 news.”…etc . That’s how news organizations work.

    CBC is big, but here are the actual facts from Canada:

    It is Canada’s largest privately owned network, and has consistently been placed as Canada’s top-rated network in total viewers and in key demographics since 2002. (Key demographics being Canada’s major population centers.) So, not sure what part of Moose Jaw you are from.

  • August 25, 2015 at 12:56 am
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    I notice that you still have not listed the changes which you claim have taken place in Cuba.
    Within the last week I have made comment about the removal of the Carta Blanca – it was not a visa!
    If you regard the exchange of the Cuban spies for Mr. Alan Gross as a Change, then why was there no change when spies were exchanged between the USSR and Allied Countries?
    As a non-American, I am not involved in your elections. When I return home to Cuba I will ask people in our city whether they are aware of change as when I left earlier this year they were not and my wife who is here in Canada at the moment has not observed change. But perhaps you sitting comfortably in the US know better than she as a Cubana does.
    Who is Rubio – a friend of yours?

  • August 25, 2015 at 12:52 am
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    The “bribery” was having a Christmas party and giving gifts to his guests.
    Maybe Father Christmas gives bribes?

  • August 25, 2015 at 12:37 am
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    You clearly don’t read clearly – it was an Associated Press Report.
    The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation would be amused at your view that CTV is Canada’s main new network.

  • August 25, 2015 at 12:32 am
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    Actually four unarmed people took out the guy with the AK47. But you only see the 3 Americans as significant. Myopia!
    Open your eyes and ears don’t just think that it is only Americans who have hearts or courage. You owe an apology to the fourth guy who along with the three Americans was honoured today by the President of France!

  • August 24, 2015 at 4:34 pm
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    It’s not the size of a population that determines what an individual does when he sees others oppressed, it’s his/her heart. Just like the 3 US military folks in the French train.They were but 3 unarmed people in a train full of French people, and yet it was they who took out the guy with a boxcutter and an assault rifle. Sometimes people just like to sit in their safe hidy place and watch, and let others do their fighting out of fear. It happens here in the US too. Not as much as elsewhere, fortunately.

  • August 24, 2015 at 3:19 pm
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    As for your link… http://www.cubatrade.org/nonus

    404: Page not found
    This error is generated when there was no web page with the name you specified at the web site.

    …so I can’t speak to what might be there. As to your Canadian businessman….

    “A Cuban court has sentenced Cy Tokmakjian, a Canadian executive, to 15 years in prison for bribery and other economic charges…” That’s pretty clear that the case was actually centered around “bribery” –BBC

    …. a crime in the US, Canada, and all other countries.

    …and bribery doesn’t exist in Venezuela either… Wink…wink…

  • August 24, 2015 at 2:56 pm
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    …and people bringing gifts to relatives is a bad thing….why? How many of your 11 million actually benefit greatly from that as you seem to insinuate it would somehow relate to open market?

  • August 24, 2015 at 2:50 pm
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    You’re the first Canadian that I’ve ever known to blindly buy into and support what even some people in the US say is a US CIA cover story. 🙂

  • August 24, 2015 at 1:09 pm
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    Which is actually against Cuban law. Whether it’s overlooked or not sometimes, doesn’t mean it’s not against the law. They are responsible for knowing and following the law there.

    I responded with the actual facts on Gross. You can’t be Canadian. Canadians are more fact conscious. I can only point you to the record.

    For your edification:
    [1]When he was arrested, he was carrying a high-tech chip,[2] intended to keep satellite phone transmissions from being located within 250 miles (400 kilometres). The chip is not available on the open market. It is provided most frequently to the CIA and the Defense Department, but can also be obtained by the State Department, which oversees USAID. Asked how Gross obtained the card, a USAID spokesman said that the agency played no role in helping Gross acquire equipment.[1]

    1 Butler, Desmond (February 13, 2012). “AP Impact: USAID contractor work in Cuba detailed”. Bloomberg Businessweek. Retrieved February 17, 2012.

    2 Berger, Paul (February 15, 2012). “What Did Alan Gross Do in Cuba? Reports Show Accused Spy Knew the Risks He Was Taking”. The Jewish Daily Forward. Retrieved February 17, 2012.

  • August 24, 2015 at 12:58 pm
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    You’re really a Miami shill, aren’t you. You didn’t notice that Cubans no longer need an exit visa (unless they’re leaving for more than 2 years?). The willingness to exchange prisoners, the willingness to even TALK to the US. Those are all huge. You should really ask your Cuban neighbors if they weren’t glued to the TV or a neighbor’s if they didn’t have one, when Raul made his speech about normalization AND when the US presient spoke on TV for the first time without being censored. THAT’S HUGE CHANGE. …but I get it, you want to line up behind Rubio. Knock yourself out, because change is happening whether you choose to see it or not.

  • August 23, 2015 at 10:35 pm
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    If you watch the disembarking of the daily Air Canada flight arriving in the evening at Jose Marti you will see a similar display of goods being imported and that has been on going for many years. There is no particular limit on the amount that families may gift to their relatives in Cuba.

  • August 22, 2015 at 9:08 pm
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    With regard to your first sentence. I have noticed no change in the Castro family regime administration in the last three years. During that period, Raul Castro announced that Cubans now owned and could sell the properties in which they lived and that they could buy and sell cars. No other visible change took place. If you know of any do please list them? I perceive change in the US policies, but none in the Castro family regimes administration.
    Although Canada’s land mass is greater than that of the US, it has but 10% of the population. I say that just to provoke some thought about relative power.

  • August 22, 2015 at 8:17 pm
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    You responded exactly as I expected! Alan Gross was not a businessman. “Corruption” in Cuba by businesses usually comprises the so-called employer giving additional rewards to staff who are good workers. That can be in the form of paying a few extra pesos or as in the case of Mr. Tokmackdian, having a Christmas party and giving gifts. As you will know, the so-called “State” actually pays the employees at their Cuban rates and the “employer” pays the State a much larger sum – about 30 times greater. For a communist administration the concept of paying people according to their contribution to a business is anathema. It reflects the much maligned “capitalismo”. The Castro family regime desires the benefits for their own purposes, but not for the employees!
    I observe and discuss in Cuba with Cubans exactly what goes on in Cuba. I do not -as you apparently do – pay anybody off.
    Incidentally did you improve your knowledge of who is doing non-resort related business in Cuba and have been doing so during the last 50 years by referring to the site provided? These are the businesses that in your words:
    “stepped up”. I expect that you will now deplore them for doing so!

  • August 22, 2015 at 7:59 pm
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    What you saw was OFAC’s allowed family gifting at work. I think now it’s limited to $1000-$2000 / year. I’ve spent that on one evenings festivities here in the US for a group of friends. My friends here will remember my gift to them for a much shorter time than the benefactors of what you saw at Marti. You got to remember, these aren’t Cubans bringing the goods in from a vacation, these are (typically) Miami relatives bringing goods to family members. The typical Cuban salary would allow them to take one trip to Miami (just airfare) every 3± years ….if they didn’t spend anything on room, board, and any other living expenses over that same 3 years or once in Miami!

  • August 22, 2015 at 1:04 pm
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    Well, there is where you do not understand what is actually going on around you in Cuba. While I won’t say Alan Gross was a spy, he was actually arrested (the fifth time) in Cuba and caught with a GPS signal obfuscation chip in his pocket. I get that just “hearing that” doesn’t help, so let me fill in some blanks for you. That particular chip, is unavailable outside the US AND inside the US ONLY available to (Dept of)State, DOD (Defense), or CIA. DOD and State said it was NOT one of theirs. So yeah, not just installing HBO and Showtime for Jews in Cuba and things are MUCH different than you see or “know”. Secondly, this “Canadian” was guilty of corruption. You cannot do business with the Cuban government without at least paying someone something. That hasn’t changed since Batista and, as they found, can also be used against you when convenient or you don’t want to be extorted for more. There is no victim there, the Canadians knew that what they were doing (paying off people and such) would be illegal in Canada and anywhere else on it’s face. So, don’t believe all the “victim” stories that you hear. If someone outside Cuba is making money in Cuba (today or Batista), there will be a 100% chance of corruption happening. Wait… how could you spend time in the interior and never “used your Canadian financial influence” to get something done for your “house” or relatives???? That’s not adding up. I can’t get out of Marti (HAV) or Bolivar (CCS Venezuela) without paying someone off.

  • August 22, 2015 at 12:50 pm
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    Really?? Over the last three years you’ve noticed no changes there? Wow! Maybe we’re just looking at different places or maybe you’re so ingrained in your beliefs that you’re just seeing what you want to see. What you miss about the United States is that there are those that will be ignorant and just do the resort thing. Like Castro’s adopted philosophy, those are our “useful idiots”. Then you have those of us that are a little more activist about our freedom and the freedom of others outside of our government. We’ve helped exploit and widen those cracks in the foundation that you haven’t seen. Once we get the millions of useful idiots over there, it will give us and the Cubans still resisting, a LOT of additional room to work. It’s funny you can’t sense the change. I go to Venezuela (my wife is an opposition ghost complete with target on her back and NOT supported by the US government, she’s Venezuelan motivated by her love of her country) and there is NO sense of hope or change sensed there in the people. Perhaps you should spend a week or two in Caracas to see the actual difference between what hope and despair look like. ..or like every other country except Russia and China, just sit back, sip your Cuba Libre, and watch what’s going to happen over the next 5 years. Unless the Batista folks like Rubio in Miami somehow regain control of our government. Then we’ll be looking at another 20 years for Cuban suffering.

  • August 21, 2015 at 6:30 pm
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    Go to:
    http://www.cubatrade.org/nonus
    Think about the Canadian who only last year was sentenced to 14 years for “corruption” in running his business in Cuba and which was confiscated by the regime. Think about the other Canadian and British company directors who were sentenced to jail in Cuba similarly for corruption. As far as I can recall Mr. Alan Gross was also convicted – for what?

  • August 21, 2015 at 6:24 pm
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    Firstly, I agree that Canadian Liberal Prime Ministers sympathised with the Castro family regime. Pierre Trudeau was on such friendly terms with Fidel Castro Ruz, that Castro attended his funeral in Canada. They not only had similar views upon the United States, but were both Jesuits. Fidel is a Grade 3 Jesuit. (Stalin spent four years training for the Jesuit priesthood). Trudeau during a visit to Cuba gave them several million dollars of Canadian taxpayers money and lent them even more millions at no interest rate.
    Inside the departure area of the 3rd terminal of Jose Marti International Airport there is a plaque commemorating its opening by Prime Minister Jean Chretien and Fidel Castro.
    It is also correct that Canada and Mexico were the only two countries in the Americas that continued diplomatic relations with Cuba following the revolution of 1959.
    I think that I fully comprehend the plight of the Cuban people, living there the majority of my time at home with my wife and walking daily through town purchasing food from both street vendors and State (military) owned shops, travelling on the “taxi particular” transport with 30 others packed into an old truck, attending schools with their walls plastered with the regimes propaganda, watching the leaking water supplies meandering down the streets, passing on each block the notices on doors declaring that the occupant is President of the CDR, watching younger generation members of our family trying to provide their children with decent clothing and food and conversing with those I meet.
    The US policy of the Embargo just has not worked. The history of US policies in South American countries is not admired around the world as being successful – look at those countries! The problem started with the Monroe Doctrine. The Platt Amendment didn’t help and the Helms Burton Amendment compounded problems.
    Nothing has changed within Cuba for Cubans. The misery of living under a Communist dictatorship described as “Socialismo” has not changed. Yet, suddenly following the secret negotiations held in (hold your breath) Canada in 2013, some sort of “change” is going to occur. I as a realist don’t believe it!
    You imply that other than US citizens, nobody cares about the plight of Cubans. You criticize other countries for failure to help the Cuban people. So apart from the failed embargo, what has the US done?
    Yes, 45% of tourists to Cuba are Canadian and yes they are concerned about enjoying their annual holiday, not about Cuban’s plight. Although it is possible that in the not too distant future, their numbers will be swamped by Americans, the tourism industry even controlled as it is by subsidiaries of GAESA has provided an improved income for many Cubans. That of course is a conundrum, if one helps Cubans financially one is helping the regime. Will Americans refrain from doing similarly? I am referring to when they are allowed to travel to Cuba from the home of the free.
    Finally, our home in Cuba is in the interior, no where near the tourist hot spots. So when you deign to visit the interior, we might even meet – because like Cubans, I walk.

  • August 21, 2015 at 11:21 am
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    Excellent point well made.

  • August 21, 2015 at 10:55 am
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    That’s what I like about these threads, I’ve always had my focus lasered in on OUR failure in Cuba and OUR responsibility for making it what you see, until yesterday. Not until Carlyle’s comment did I ever think about the fact that not even one other country stepped up in those 50 years (outside of Russia and China, if you can call what they do “stepping up”). Not one. They all just selfishly took advantage of the beauty and resorts and pretty much looked in the worker’s eyes and said, “Sucks to be you, I’m on vacation”. I’ll be really interested to see how long before things change for the actual people there if we can get the embargo lifted here. I’ll also be interested to see how many other countries open non-resort related business partnerships in Cuba now as well. Where were they over the last 50 years?

  • August 21, 2015 at 6:56 am
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    I agree with you. It’s because of American influence in the world that many other countries get a free pass to enjoy their democracies without having to defend it’s existence. Canadians have enjoyed a “live and let live” relationship with Cuba because their powerful neighbor to the south kept a megalomaniacal Fidel Castro in check during his expansionist desire to turn the entire hemisphere into a socialist bloc. Better yet, the US embargo forced Cubans to remain hyper-receptive to their Canadian visitors which benefited Canadian tourists. Proof of this is when Canadians visit Miami and Miami Cubans “fall in love” a lot less frequently with their Canadian visitors.

  • August 20, 2015 at 4:32 pm
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    Then you truly do not understand the plight of Cuban people and what can get them the freedom that has been withheld from them for over 50 years, just in this rendition of their back to back despot dictatorships. Every other country in the world has had an exclusive opportunity to make a difference in Cuba for the Cuban people during our extremely selfish and stupid (US) absence. Nice work there! You guys have done wonders for them! The reason that you haven’t? The same selfish reasons as the US. Your country would rather make money and be “friends” with the US than help the people of Cuba. Well, unless you’re from China or Russia. In that case, you’ve just chosen to keep them oppressed because that’s what you do. Just for grins and giggles, and to inform an ignorant Yank, what have you “other countries” actually done in the last 50 years to free the Cuban people from the grips of the Castro family and “help them in their plight?” I mean other than visiting the government owned resorts that lined the Castro’s pockets. Why don’t I see you guys when I go into the Cuban interior? “The potential freedoms of Cuban citizens” has now been proven to be tied directly to the US. Again, you had 50 exclusive years to do something there to help them to be free. So excuse us while we fight among ourselves now to finally get this right.

  • August 20, 2015 at 4:11 pm
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    Thanks for that! As someone with only a “US” thought process background, I really do enjoy listening to what and how others think. It helps me develop a clearer picture of everything that I’ve seen. It’s all about becoming a more complete human. Thanks for your service! I worked with leathernecks out of PaCom JSOC MCBH and Camp Smith 🙂 Even though you didn’t go SEAL you do have the skillset to wreak havoc in Cuba. I know you could entice a squad member or two assist. wink wink. One current team from today has more knowledge, skillset, and destructive power than any fully complete CIA trained operation of the 60’s! 🙂

  • August 20, 2015 at 3:41 pm
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    I flew into Havana from Miami and the plane was full of people bringing in literally cubic yards of packed goods. And yet they say no trade between our countries. Bull sh*t the Airport was full of Cubans helping folks move the stuff out of Marti!!!

  • August 20, 2015 at 12:44 pm
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    We who are not Americans can only hope that the US Presidential election due in late 2016 in the US does not dominate these columns for the next 16-17 months. We realise that it is important to Americans, but the Havana Times is primarily about Cuba and the plight of Cubans.
    In my view discussion about the “freedoms of US citizens” belong elsewhere! I am concerned here, in discussing the potential freedoms of Cuban citizens.

  • August 20, 2015 at 11:27 am
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    Great comment. True the Russians never did give up control of the SS 5 missiles, they always thought Fidel and Che to be a bit unstable. But the Cubans did provide a destabilizing influence in South America, the Caribbean, and Africa. The embargo hopefully provided enough difficulty for the Cubans at that time that it limited there “revolutionary” activities.

    By the way in response to another post in which you asks me about myself, I never thought violence was the answer to Castro after he was entrenched. Change will only come about through the slow empowerment of the little bits of civil society found here and there in Cuba. I think the embargo has worked at cross purposes to that, especially during the last decade. As for my taking up arms? Lol, I was born in the very late 60s, way, way after the bay of pigs and I came to this court in the early 70s. I did serve my country…the USA. Afghanistan and Iraq ……
    15th MEU, we were already in northern Pakistan in October 2001

  • August 19, 2015 at 7:57 pm
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    Again, as an American, my #1 concern is the government of the US restricting the freedoms of US citizens and the absolute idiots here that would support something like that after sending us (me) into places like Iraq and Afghanistan for them. I don’t mind going to those lovely places, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to fight for them and then come back to have people that are too young to have been alive during the actual time continue the restricting of basic freedoms of US citizens. Citizens in a free country should ALWAYS be in control of their government and ALWAYS free to check on what their government is doing. Even the idiots that support the government telling them where they can and can’t go. I’m OK with them asking the government (or psychologist) to dictate to them where THEY can and can’t go if that’s their free choice, but restricting other people’s freedom to travel anywhere ESPECIALLY to check on US policy, is what dictatorship is all about. What’s really funny is that in 2012 Castro abolished the restriction for Cubans to travel to the US. We are actually restricting our citizens in a way Cuba does not. WTF???? My secondary concerns are the welfare of the Cuban people. They do indeed mean something to me and why I do what I do when I’m there.

  • August 19, 2015 at 7:33 pm
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    I agree with the exemptions to the embargo. Surely will be Obamas legacy to allow the Cuban people to dream again and improve their quality of life forever…Epic!

  • August 19, 2015 at 6:34 pm
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    The purpose of the U.S. government’s embargo on Cuba and the punishing of the entire Cuban population was to cause such pervasive and widespread poverty that the Cuban people would rise up and get rid of the threat that a successful socialist economy represents to the USA.
    It was the reason for the joint U.S/ European of the just-born Soviet Union in 1918 and the same reason for Vietnam, Grenada
    and well over 70 other U.S. interventions worldwide since then
    revolutionary .
    You can read about 54 or so of those at the “Killing Hope” website.
    Whatever other reasons you might have heard for U.S. government hostilities against Cuba for 54 years are, for the most part, bullshit and things that must be said to avoid the hard truth.

  • August 19, 2015 at 4:39 pm
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    Again, I’m party neutral. I hate them both. Obama is not all good or all bad. GW wasn’t all good or all bad. Life is only that simple in simple people’s minds. Cuba? Obama got right. I have no doubt and never, not one single day, have lived in fear of Cuba or what they could do to anyone (outside of their country or even me in their country), even what they could do to Jamaica (mon)! As I said before, I go there (Cuba..not Jamaica). I do not fear the Cuban government when I travel there. I respect their rules for me in country like I would respect yours in your house. Not sure I know any real American who would fear them. Not anyone I’ve ever served with anyway.

    Iran? Not putting too much money on that bet coming up roses, as someone who will be working in the radiation zone if things don’t work out right. …but I’m also not afraid to work in the radiation zone if need either. I’m also not afraid to die. The military kind of fixed that for me. I don’t want to and personally prefer not to, but if I do, there really isn’t much I can do about it.

    …and before you go to the Cuban Missile Crisis fear mongering…. It never existed. At NO time did the Cubans ever become more than the landlord of the property. It was a Russian Missile Crisis in Cuba. The Russians NEVER relinquished ownership, operations, pointing instructions, or launch codes to the Cubans. EVER. Punishing Cuba for this is like Russia going after what was West Germany still now for us putting our missiles and bases there! Doesn’t that really sound stupid? People just need to get past the rah! rah! Hooray for my side rhetoric and just actually think things through.

  • August 19, 2015 at 4:27 pm
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    Again, don’t really care about business, don’t really care about the embargo. What I do care about are the freedoms of US citizens. This is why I left the republican party. You have Rubio, the poster-boy for dictatorship (himself, not Castro!) saying, “I don’t care if it’s found that 90% of Americans are in favor of normalization, I will still be against it.” What the hell kind of representative of the people says that? Well Marco, it’s only 15% away from that now in the general population ±3%, there are enough middle state republican congresspeople to get the embargo lifted in congress …even pushing past the 2/3’s mark in both houses, and 56% of the people that say they are likely to vote republican in the next presidential election are for normalization. So, this is what you are doing. You are running for president with a platform that 56% of your likely voters don’t agree with and 75% of Americans don’t agree with. Basically, you think that if you got the entire 46% of the people that actually vote your party and 25% (which your 46% are included in!) of the voting part of the population, you’d somehow even be a viable candidate? I feel like that old lady in the commercial… “Marco! That’s not how this works! That’s not how ANY of this works!!!” You need to at least lie to enough idiots that would actually believe you to give you a majority of votes. Just because Marco wants to be president doesn’t mean Marco can be President. …and if by some strange twist of fate you become the republican candidate and Hillary wins the Whitehouse? I will forget Castro before I forget you got Hillary elected.

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